Middle East emerges as the most vulnerable region to cyber-threats globally

The Middle East has emerged as the most vulnerable region to cyber-attacks and associated risks, notes the latest 2017 FM Global Resilience Index.

High internet penetration in the Middle East makes the region highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks thanks to a limited cyber security industry.

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The 2017 FM Global Resilience Index has ranked 130 countries based on indicators like resilience against cyber-attacks, natural hazards and supply chain failure. In terms of vulnerability to cyber-threats, Middle East countries including the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Azerbaijan feature among the top five countries with above-average inherent cyber-risk. Bahrain tops the group of 130 countries in this parameter, scoring zero in the process.

These oil-rich countries have high internet penetration but suffer from equally high cyber-risks because of lesser emphasis on their cyber security industries. In contrast, with growing internet penetration and digitisation, India, which boasts of a population of 1.3 billion, scores reasonably well here with an inherent cyber-risk score of 76.7, compared to three zones in China which rank much lower.

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What may bother many cyber-security experts is that a number of reasonably daveloped nations and regions like South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and China have poor scores to show in terms of their resilience against cyber-threats. In contrast, African countries like Ghana, Madagascar, Namibia and Botswana rank among the best in this regard.

United Kingdom scores reasonably well in terms of vulnerability to cyber-attacks but other European countries like Sweden, Switzerland, Germany and France have better scores to show. This implies that European countries with large supply chains and deep internet penetration have invested well in cyber-security even as they have moved quickly towards digitisation.

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Back in March, NATO signatory countries pledged to spend $3.2 billion over the next three years on satellite technology, cybersecurity defences and associated information technology infrastructure. Of the total, as much as 290 million euros have been earmarked for cyber security and information-technology infrastructure with a further 180 million for advanced software.

'We can only confront today’s security challenges effectively if we strengthen our civil preparedness alongside our military preparedness. Resilience requires a long-term effort. Putting the right plans and capabilities in place is a national responsibility, but NATO stands ready to support our Allies in increasing their resilience,' said Patrick Turner, NATO’s Assistant Secretary General for Operations.

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